This week, our nation suffered yet again as news of two more mass shootings made headlines. On Saturday night, an Uber driver in Kalamazoo, MI, shot eight people, killing six, in a five-hour spree with victims in three locations. Chillingly, the shooter picked up fares between killings, and no connection to the victims has been found—a truly senseless tragedy that sent shockwaves through a community.
And just yesterday, a gunman in Hesston, KS, shot an assault rifle out of his car while driving and then opened fire at the manufacturing plant where he worked. Earlier in the afternoon, he’d been served with a protective order filed by his ex-girlfriend, alleging physical abuse and noting, “He is an alcoholic, violent, depressed, and it’s my belief that he is in need of medical and psychological help!”
Less than two hours after the order was served, the gunman had already killed three and injured 14 others before dying in a shootout with police.
Kansas has yet to enact even the most basic common-sense gun laws—the state ranked last in our 2015 Gun Law State Scorecard. In fact, last year it went so far as to repeal a lifesaving permit-to-purchase requirement. We know the shooter was a convicted felon and prohibited from legally possessing a firearm, but this didn’t prevent him from having easy access to deadly weapons.
States like California and Massachusetts, with the help of the Law Center, have stepped up to protect their citizens with laws such as universal background checks, firearms relinquishment procedures, and gun violence restraining orders. And they’ve seen drops in their gun death rates as a result.
Lawmakers in Kansas can do more to stand up to the to the gun lobby’s deadly agenda and enact laws that protect their citizens—laws, such universal background checks, that enjoy wide public support. In light of yesterday’s shooting in Hesston, domestic violence protections would be a natural place to start. Laws to keep victims safe from armed abusers have failed to pass in Kansas in the past, but have recently been enacted by other conservative states such as Louisiana and South Carolina and are often passed by bipartisan coalitions.
We’re proud of the historic progress we’ve seen in states across the country, especially since the tragedy at Sandy Hook–but we know there’s still more work that must be done to keep Americans safe from gun violence. We won’t stop fighting for the smart gun laws that help keep deadly weapons away from dangerous people.